Shariah-Supporting Sultan of Brunei Bids for NYC's Famed Plaza Hotel

Saturday, 16 Aug 2014 11:34 PM

By Todd Beamon

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The Sultan of Brunei is leading the bidding to buy the landmark Plaza Hotel in New York and two other marquee hotels for $2.2 billion.

The five-star Grosvenor House Hotel in London and the Dream Downtown, also in Manhattan, are part of the deal, Fox News reports.

The deal was first reported by The Times of London. The hotels are being sold by Subrata Roy, 66, the Indian tycoon who is in jail in New Delhi on alleged charges of not paying debts to his company's investors, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The proceeds from the deal would go toward Roy's $1.6 billion bond. His Sahara Group bought the Plaza for about $570 million in 2012.

Two years earlier, it paid $790 million for the Grosvenor House, which is within walking distance of Buckingham Palace.

Under the deal, the sultan would not have any management of the hotels' daily operations, Sean Hennessey, CEO of Lodging Investment Advisors, told The New York Post. He also owns the Beverly Hills Hotel, Fox reports.

The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, 68, has come under fire for espousing the country's controversial Islamic Shariah criminal law as a "great achievement."

The law calls for using flogging and stoning to punish those involved in adultery, abortions, and same-sex relationships.

Located in Southeast Asia, Brunei is an oil-rich Muslim country that bans alcohol and where family affairs are governed by the courts. The country's version of Shariah applies many of the harsh penalties to non-Muslims, who account for about a third of the 440,000 people who live there.

Celebrities and Hollywood groups responded to the sultan's remarks by boycotting the Beverly Hills Hotel — and the Motion Picture & Television Fund refused to hold a pre-Oscars party there.

Some New York groups responded similarly at the prospect of the sultan owning the Plaza.

"We cannot support doing business with someone who holds such beliefs that criminalize the actions of individuals based on their sexual orientation," Elsie McCabe Thompson, president of the New York City Mission Society, told the Post.

The group holds galas annually at the Plaza.

No timetable has been set for completion of the deal, but talks have been taking place between Brunei officials and Sahara representatives throughout the summer, the Journal reports.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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